Hartz 4 – Mutual Agreement or Bad Compromise

After a long time of debates and controversies, they now found a compromise in the Hartz 4 dilemma (see ARD):

Active from January, 1st, 2010, the standard amount of money to be received will be five extra Euros, which means a total of 364 Euros. With the beginning of 2012, a basic sum of three Euros will be added to the then regular increase, which will be calculated from the inflation and income developments.

So the news is that in 2012 there will be three extra Euros more than the regular procedure would have suggested. That is 3 + x with x being the regular increase. Since there is an extra basic sum, I already see us having arguments all over the place about how high the correct x should be…

To me, this looks like another fake compromise. Or is that what you call a “sell out”? However, I was surprised to see how content everybody was with this compromise
Federal Labour Minister Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) showed relief and called the result a “good achievement”. She said it had been a “hard birthing” but the result was a “standard rate that meets all constitutional requirements”. Her words were: “It was worth the trouble”.
Well, here is what comes to my mind: “a mountain went into labour and gave birth to a mouse”.
Yet, the SPD negotiator Manuela Schwesig, too, looked quite content. The education package for around 2.5 million children was again increased by 400 million Euros. The extra money is to be spent on social school workers in the municipalities and a warm lunch for children who stay in the day-care centre after school.

Apparently, the original plan had been invest 700 million Euros for exactly this purpose. At least that is what it says on our Federal Chancellor’s Website. Here is a some of it:

Specific Encouragement through Non-Cash Benefits

The educational package will provide each and every one of these children with access to clubs in the fields of sports, play and culture, holiday camps and extra-curricular education. Our labour agency will sponsor these events with up to 120 Euros each year. Besides, all children will get school equipment worth 100 Euros every year and an additional 30 yearly Euros for school and day-care centre excursions.
Those children and adolescents who eat a warm school lunch will get around two Euros per midday meal. Children who have problems at school will get free additional tutoring.

On the whole, the educational package of 2011 is around 700 million Euros, the years 2012 and 2013 each 730 million Euros.
Now I will add the 700 million to the 400 million. The sum is 1.1 billion. If I divide this by 2.5 million children, I get 440 Euros per child. With 200 school days, you get 2.20 Euros each day for every child. Well, it might just be enough to pay for the warm lunch.

So what about the social school workers? Sports, play and culture? Holiday camps? Extra-curricular education?

Does the last item refer to extra tuition? Unfortunately, the quality of our schools is now such that hardly any child will pass each year without extra tuition – be it by the parents or by others.

On the other hand, I am not sure if Hartz 4 is the best approach for solving our problems.

(Translated by EG)

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